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Revise the Features of Formal Official Language

In this worksheet, students consider the features of formal language and think about situations where formal English should be used in writing.

'Revise the Features of Formal Official Language' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Writing

Curriculum subtopic:  Purpose and Audience Awareness

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Formal official language is a style of English used in certain situations, such as official notices and letters. It has features that make it different from the type of English we use in everyday situations.

 

 

for example:

A charge of £20 will be levied. Members over 65 years of age will be exempt.

 

An informal text might say:

Members will be charged £20 but the over 65s won't have to pay.

 

As well as using formal words and phrases (such as levied instead of charged), official texts often use the passive voice ('will be levied') and avoid contractions (such as won't).

Match the formal statements with their informal equivalents.

 

(If you can't see the whole sentence in the box, hover your mouse over it.)

Column A

Column B

Smoking is prohibited in this establishment.
You can't smoke here!
Successful contestants will be notified.
No cars, buses or lorries are allowed.
We acknowledge receipt of your communication.
We will let you know if you are a winner.
Vehicles are prohibited.
Your letter has arrived.

Tick the three sentences that are written in formal language.

I look forward to hearing your propositions.

Your prompt action will be appreciated in this matter.

Let's get started on this soon.

Please don't ride your bikes in this area.

Wheelchair users will be exempt from this rule.

We hope to hear from you before very long.

In which of these situations would you expect formal language to be used?

 

Tick two boxes.

a thank you letter for a birthday present

a letter from a lawyer or solicitor

a notice telling people the rules in a swimming pool

a poster advertising a school fair

a letter to the council

Which of the words in the list might be used in official language to mean 'on time'?

 

You may need a dictionary if you do not know what the words mean.

 

Tick three boxes.

timely

casual

punctual

delayed

belated

prompt

Which of the words in the list might be used in official language to mean 'allowed'?

 

You may need a dictionary if you do not know what the words mean.

 

Tick three boxes.

permitted

forbidden

authorised

denied

prohibited

acceptable

Which of these are features of good official English?

 

Tick three boxes.

It should use long sentences.

It should use formal language.

It should be easy to understand.

It should avoid using slang words.

It should use long words.

Read this sentence in informal English.

 

Turn your mobiles off while the show is on!

 

Which of the following sentences would be used in formal English?

Please turn your mobiles off while the show is on.

You mustn't use your mobile phone while the show is on.

Members of the audience are requested to switch off all mobile phones during the performance.

Don't let your phone go off during the performance!

Read this sentence in informal English.

 

You can send your entries to the address at the top of this letter.

 

Which of the following sentences would be used in formal English?

Please send your entries here!

Entries should be sent to the above address.

You can send your entries to this address!

Send your entries to the address at the top of this letter.

Official English is often over-used, making the end result very hard to understand. Language used in this way has been called 'officialese'.

 

What do you think was meant by this sentence?

 

The receipt of your communication is hereby acknowledged with thanks.

We will be writing to you soon.

Thank you for your letter.

We are waiting for you to send us your letter.

What does this officialese mean in plain English?

 

It is regretted that the transmitted document contained a number of inaccuracies.

We regret that we sent you the wrong document.

The document was damaged in the post.

We are sorry that there were mistakes in the document we sent.

  • Question 1

Match the formal statements with their informal equivalents.

 

(If you can't see the whole sentence in the box, hover your mouse over it.)

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Smoking is prohibited in this est...
You can't smoke here!
Successful contestants will be no...
We will let you know if you are a...
We acknowledge receipt of your co...
Your letter has arrived.
Vehicles are prohibited.
No cars, buses or lorries are all...
  • Question 2

Tick the three sentences that are written in formal language.

CORRECT ANSWER
I look forward to hearing your propositions.
Your prompt action will be appreciated in this matter.
Wheelchair users will be exempt from this rule.
  • Question 3

In which of these situations would you expect formal language to be used?

 

Tick two boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
a letter from a lawyer or solicitor
a letter to the council
EDDIE SAYS
Rules for using places like swimming pools and parks used to be written in official English, but often people didn't understand them so now they tend to be written in more everyday language.
  • Question 4

Which of the words in the list might be used in official language to mean 'on time'?

 

You may need a dictionary if you do not know what the words mean.

 

Tick three boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
timely
punctual
prompt
  • Question 5

Which of the words in the list might be used in official language to mean 'allowed'?

 

You may need a dictionary if you do not know what the words mean.

 

Tick three boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
permitted
authorised
acceptable
  • Question 6

Which of these are features of good official English?

 

Tick three boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
It should use formal language.
It should be easy to understand.
It should avoid using slang words.
EDDIE SAYS
There is no need for official language to use long and difficult words, but it is a mistake that people often make.
  • Question 7

Read this sentence in informal English.

 

Turn your mobiles off while the show is on!

 

Which of the following sentences would be used in formal English?

CORRECT ANSWER
Members of the audience are requested to switch off all mobile phones during the performance.
  • Question 8

Read this sentence in informal English.

 

You can send your entries to the address at the top of this letter.

 

Which of the following sentences would be used in formal English?

CORRECT ANSWER
Entries should be sent to the above address.
  • Question 9

Official English is often over-used, making the end result very hard to understand. Language used in this way has been called 'officialese'.

 

What do you think was meant by this sentence?

 

The receipt of your communication is hereby acknowledged with thanks.

CORRECT ANSWER
Thank you for your letter.
  • Question 10

What does this officialese mean in plain English?

 

It is regretted that the transmitted document contained a number of inaccuracies.

CORRECT ANSWER
We are sorry that there were mistakes in the document we sent.
---- OR ----

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